Friday, November 24, 2017
Today am thankful for a day of rest with Julia, Phoebe, and James: for the Waikiki Aquarium, for parking lots, for cross walks, for colorful people, for colorful fish/sea horses/dragons, for friendly aloha-filled staff, for God’s underwater creatures small and great, for the joy of children’s new discovery, for enthusiasm and creativity, for our family minivan, for public transportation, for GPS and Google Maps, for freshly mown grass and the friendly greeting of the houseless — we give thee thanks, O God.
*A note about the 2017 Season of Gratitude*
Beginning Thanksgivings Day, November 23 I’m commencing a “Season of Gratitude.” As for previous years (this is now year three), I pay tribute to the Rev. Michael Arase-Barham who posts in a similar way throughout November each year and inspired and gave blessing for me to post in this way. I’ll be posting a “gratitude post” for each day for 30/31 days, taking us through Advent and almost to Christmas 2017.
*Day 1 – Thanksgiving Day 2017*
Today I was grateful for my 3rd Thanksgiving in the U.S. and in these Hawaiian Islands, and for the opportunity to Celebrate Eucharist for the first time on this day. For the Eucharist: for the kiss of peace from friend and stranger, for the beautiful Harvest Festival-style arrangement, for the beauty of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, for our guest muscian. For Thanksgiving lunch: vegan, of course, specially purchased and prepared by dearest Julia, for Phoebe and James’ embrace of Thanksgiving trimmings, for Tofurky, for vegan pumpkin pie, for roast vegies, for peace and joy in my home, for those who make the world so, in small ways — we give thee thanks, O God.
Today I’m grateful for courageous people, for those who walk with strength and courage, for the faith of a houseless person who was praying in the street, for those who refuse to give up hope, for those who commit their lives to the poor, and for those who walk where the road leads them. And I’m grateful for ship’s captains, for the port masters, for the tug boat drivers, for the undersea divers, for the U.S. Coastguard, for Merchant Seamen and Women, for those who care for them, and for those who dedicate their lives to make sea voyages safer around the world.
Yesterday I was grateful for time back in the office at the Parish, time at the pool with Phoebe and James after work, the sights, sounds, and smells of Honolulu, the freshly greened church building, the peace of an empty parking lot, the calm of knowing you are loved, the hope that comes from a simple word, and the reassurance of things not seen.
Yesterday I was grateful for a safe flight home, sleep on the plane (unusual and quite a wonderful change), silly movies to distract from serious business, a quiet and respectful traveling companion, friendly and hospitable flight crew, and a smooth ride through customs. And I was grateful to be able to see the smiling faces of my wife and children once again, and to catch up on all their news and new learning.
Today I’m grateful for my final day in Australia for some time: for a beautiful summer day, for family generosity, for lugging Christmas presents, a great run in traffic, for ultra-friendly check-in staff, for hummas, lemon lime and bitters, a veggie burger, chats with travellers, and the amazing world of airports. And I’m grateful to be heading back to my beautiful but broken island home to be with my family and to minister with God’s people, for all that the Hawaiian Islands have been, are, and can be to local people and to the world. I crave the hang-loose aloha spirit that reminds of the ancient breath of God, spinning and turning over ocean and mountain, relaxed but purposeful; that breath that is leading me home.
Today I’m grateful for world religions, for the wonderful expressions of God’s love around the world, for bridge builders between culture and religion, for diplomats and other peacemakers, for those who walk violent streets as ecumenical accompanyers, for those who travel the globe in the search of better solutions for humanity, for those in their neighborhoods who strive to learn the ways of peace, for the people who have helped me be filled with more peace, for those who pray for peace, and for companion animals who embody peace.
Today I’m grateful for those who make time for others in the midst of pre-Christmas busyness, for those who desire the best for others, who genuinely find life in creative difference, for those who rebuild their lives and the lives of others, and for those who are willing to risk it all for vocational calling. For planes, trains, and automobiles, and the technological innovation that makes them safer then ever before. And for more fresh fruit, clean, abundant water, and a roof over my head, and those who make these things possible.
Today I’m grateful for people who say the right thing at the right time, who see deep into your soul, who gently reveal their vulnerability and fear, who live with the bittersweet realities of life, who ponder the earth’s mysteries, and who spend time, not in raw task-oriented productivity, but in space-filled reflection and philosophical wondering. I’m thankful too for the gift of newspapers, for the old-school feel of newsprint in the hand, for great journalists who take their task of prophetic wisdom-sharing seriously, for institutions who support and foster creative, independent news media and current affairs programing, and those who spend their lives studying the complex web of global culture, religion and politics.
Today I’m grateful for an amazingly random pastoral conversation with a stranger, a young white Aussie man trying to find his way in the midst of huge obstacles. I’m grateful for his honestly, his courage, his conviction, his conscience, his informal confession, his willingness to risk everything for his friends, for his fighting spirit, his gratitude, his search for identity away from disfunction, and the way he reminded me of the immense societal and cultural challenges that human beings around the world face, the reminder to me of the imprisoned, the lonely, the desperate, and the outcast. Thanks be to you, fellow traveller: you have reminded me that the search for humility lies is cruciform, the search for transformation lies beyond the shadows, and the search for reconciliation starts with each other in active, participant-rich community.